Rediscovering the lost art of CDs

Photo by Brenda Lin

I have been an avid lover of online music since the day I realized it existed. I bought “Hey There Delilah” for my lime green iPod Nano back in 2006, just as I have loyally bought Spotify Premium each month. But recently, I have come to the conclusion that maybe CDs offer something that online music and radio just do not have.

I will be honest. I was bored over Spring Break. And it was this boredom that lead me to drive for hours around west Georgia. But, unfortunately, I was bored even while driving. And so I reached for none other than CDs.

Before last week, I had not listened to a CD since high school. I thought it was an outdated piece of technology that was better off not even being produced. I am now prepared to admit that I might have been wrong.

Sitting there in my seemingly archaic car that cannot connect to my iPhone, I rediscovered  the lost art of albums. At first, I chose a CD simply because I could not listen to “Uptown Funk” one more time  without purposely crashing. But pretty soon, I was buying CDs at Best Buy like Britney and Justin were still together.

Somewhere, in trying to perfect the art of playlists, I lost the joy that can come from just listening to music. My CD experiment has shown me that there are more important aspects to music than being in control of it. Online music has made me forget that.

Currently, I spend a ridiculous amount of time naming, sorting and combining playlists, not even really for my own enjoyment, but often because I feel like its something I should do. A lot of the time, I just want to impress the person I am riding in the car with or make sure that someone else’s Spotify feed shows that I am by far the coolest, most hipster, “Oh, you haven’t heard of this band yet?” person out there.

While I was in my car listening to artists in thirteen-song-chunks, I fell in love with songs I had never heard of and ones I had always skipped because I did not like the name or the first fifteen seconds.

Basically, I realized I had not been giving my favorite artists enough credit. I had been picking and choosing from their songs, instead of listening to them the way they intended: as a whole.

Only using Spotify or iTunes is like always shopping at the mall. Sure, the choices are limitless but is it really always the best choice?

I am not saying that I am forever changed or that I will never make another cleverly named Spotify playlist again. All I am saying is that a problem that used to be clearly black and white, to me, is now a little bit gray.

Honestly, until I went back to CDs, I did not see how the Internet really has revolutionized music. And yes, this revolution is amazing. The fact I can download the entire Beatles anthology in under ten minutes is a miracle. But we are losing something too; we are losing the big picture, broad stroke artistic goals of our singers and songwriters.

Since my return to Tech, I have not relied on my normal playlists. Instead, I have made more of an attempt to listen to the playlists the artists make themselves — their albums.

At the very least, gone are the days of skipping through songs for four minutes instead of just listening to an actual song.